3D Mail and Double Readeship Path

By Travis Lee

We’re going to talk about double readership path and copy cosmetic together this month, as they go hand-in-hand.  For both items, it doesn’t matter if you’re using a 4” x 6” postcard, a one page sales letter, or a 48 page magalog, these techniques still apply.  As much as I hate to admit it, and as much as it wish it weren’t true, the cosmetics you use to create a double readership path is almost as important as the copy itself.  In fact
it’s one of the biggest mistakes I see when reviewing and critiquing client letters.

By using a double readership and cosmetics, your clients or prospect should be able to make a buying decision by reading some or all of the following in your letter:

The headline
The subheads
Photo captions
Ordering instructions
Bold facing
Underlining
Italicizing
Type size (point size)
Indents
Boxes/boarders
Shading
Color
Handwritten notes (Copy Doodles)
Cross Outs
Photographs
Yellow Hi-Lighter
Charts
Sidebars

The first big reason to use cosmetics is to increase the likelihood of readership, which is the #1 goal of any sales letters.  You need eyeballs on your piece to make a sale, and using cosmetics is a great way to do that.  It also helps to keep the person reading.  You’ll notice I often use a dot, dot dot (…) style in my letters, or hand-written notes to “read more” or “over please.”  All of these help keep the person reading your letter.

Finally, it can make long copy seem less intimidating and even make it appear shorter.  So now you’re asking yourself, “If cosmetics make the copy seem shorter, why don’t I just send short copy!”  That’s a fair question.

In every set of clients or prospects there are two kinds of people, impulse buyers and analytic buyers.  They both arrive at a buying decision differently.  Impulse buyers are what we call skimmers in the direct mail world.  They’re the type that read only the headline, sub-heads, photo captions, boldfaces or underlines, etc.  They will skim the letter and get enough information to take action.  These are the buyers you use cosmetics and a double readership path for.  In many cases, the impulse buyer will make a buying decision reading as we described above, make the purchase, then GO BACK and read the letter later, just to confirm what they’ve purchased.

Analytic buyers need lots of information, lots of facts, figures, charts, graphs, credible testimonials, etc.  As the name implies, they are very analytical about their purchase.  They need to know every nitty-gritty detailin order to act.  They’ll study the letter, often over the course of hours, or even days.  If you used short form sales letters and only sent the major details and left out what the impulse buyers would call “minutia,” you’d be ignoring the analytic buyers altogether.

When the analytic buyer  shops for a new car they visit many dealerships, get issues of Consumer Report,  checks the internet, evaluates resale value, check the insurance costs and on and on.  The impulse buyer buys the car because he likes the color, or the power, or the “coolness,” and will often buy on the spot.

To complicate things, clients or prospects will often change from analytic buyers to impulse buyers and back, based on what’s being offered.  So, you’re best to stick with long form copy, while using cosmetics and double readership path than trying to find the readers or the skimmers.

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